Believe Their Pain: SheSays urges employers to recognise hidden mental illness

Believe Their Pain: SheSays urges employers to recognise hidden mental illness

83% of women and non-binary people hide their pain at work.

SheSays, the non-profit organisation championing gender equality in the creative industries, has partnered with JCDecaux Community Channel to launch a nationwide ‘Believe Their Pain’ campaign to raise awareness of the thousands of women and non-binary people who are living with hidden illnesses and disabilities in the creative industry.

Research* conducted by SheSays found that 83% of women and non-binary people hide their pain.

Mental health issues and neurodiversity were the highest-ranking conditions that people were hiding, with 62% doing so due to fear of judgement and prejudice at work and 52% believing it could limit promotion or opportunities at work if employers found out.

The campaign uses shocking statistics and real quotes, such as “You don’t look sick” and ‘1 in 2 women feel their pain was dismissed because of their gender’ to highlight the misconception around hidden conditions. The aim of the creative is to help those living with a hidden health challenge feel seen and understood and to educate employers, so they realise what many people in their businesses are dealing with. By opening the lines of communication for employees to feel safe to talk about their hidden illness or disability, these invisible barriers can be removed. The campaign can be seen at 250 digital sites across the UK, which could include premium sites such as the M4 Torch, Shoreditch Showcase, and Marylebone Tower.

Recent research by Harvard Business Review found that managers that were empathetic and willing to listen to their team member’s experiences and accommodate their requests were more successful leaders, and the teams reported a 63% increase in wellbeing and 71% increase in engagement compared to the average. SheSays has created a dedicated resources page to support the campaign for those with a hidden illness or disability as well as employers to use. It includes three simple steps to start taking positive actions around a hidden health impairment starting with 1) believe them, 2) educate yourself and 3) advocate for them.

Believe Their Pain: SheSays urges employers to recognise hidden mental illness

Amy Dick, UK President of SheSays, said: “We created this campaign with compassion and empathy, drawing on many people’s lived experiences, to raise awareness of what thousands of people feel the need to hide daily. Nobody’s pain should go unnoticed or unsupported. Thanks to our OOH campaign with JCDecaux’s Community Channel we will be bringing this important message to people across the UK. Our campaign and the resources that we’ve created aims to help people with hidden health conditions and the people around them to better understand their colleagues. We also hope businesses will make positive steps to adapt so processes are in place for both physiologically and psychologically safe conversations to happen. All these actions will benefit both employees and employers.”


Creative Director: Mikaela Dragon
Creative Director: Ruby Norman-Curran
Creative Director and Social Strategist: Melissa Wong
Creative: Opal Turner
Design: Ana Grigorovici
Design: Emma Kate Wormley
Web Developer: Jennifer Vobis
Strategy and comms: Charlotte Read, PRcentric
SheSays UK President & Executive Producer: Amy Dick

Source: Harvard Business Review, April 2023 
*SheSays surveyed its community and women and non-binary people currently working within creative industries.

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